As often as we host the Evangelism and Fellowship Community BBQ’s we never know what to expect. The weather could be good making the cooking ideal for Terry Tisdale or it can turn nasty making the chore a lot less enjoyable. Likewise we can have people lined up to eat before we are ready or see them trickle in little by little, we can run out of food by 6:00 or have food left over. People can be happy or grumpy, one never knows. What we can always expect is to have a good feeling at the end of the evening in knowing that in some way we have touched everyone who came through our doors with our caring and welcoming hospitality.
Our second BBQ of 2018 was no exception. For Terry, my wife Carol, and I, our day started around 9:00 in the morning. We had to prepare 80 lbs. of chicken along with setting up the BBQ grille. Right off the bat we noticed our two gas ovens in the kitchen were not working. As sometimes happens, the gas pilot lights had blown out at the worst of times. Thankfully Terry was there and was able to disassemble the ovens in order to relight the pilot lights. By 12:30 the chicken was partially cooked, the kitchen cleaned up and everyone gone except for Terry and me when someone comes up to Terry and says they are hungry, have no money and could we please feed them, our earliest guest ever. We fixed them up two nice carry out boxes of chicken, beans and coleslaw and off they went.
When the church staff returned from lunch I informed Mike Parr that the kitchen water heater appeared not to be producing hot water. I thought since it was a gas water heater, might possibly the pilot be out as was the ovens? Terry then got down on the floor to take apart the water heater then re-lit the pilot light. Thankfully Terry is always there when we most need him.
The actual BBQ went as most do. People came in small groups which was good as we had many new people from our congregation on the serving line and also as greeters. Everywhere I looked our people were smiling and having a good time. We had people who come to every Community BBQ join us including some from a group home who were happy to know the food was free.
By 7:00 o’clock the signs were taken in and cleaning up well under way. By 7:30 it was lights out and all but Mike Parr, my wife and I alone in the kitchen when the biggest surprise of the evening. A knock on the kitchen door and a young woman who, just off from work and on her way home, wanted to know if it was too late for some BBQ dinner. Although we had run out of chicken, I assured her we had plenty of hot dogs. She indicated it was just her and two hot dogs would be fine so I loaded her up with hot dogs, buns, baked beans and coleslaw in a take home box and she gave me a big smile and a thank you and then she was on her way with her dinner for the evening. No need to defrost or cook a dinner, we made dinner a little more enjoyable for a Friday night alone.
Sometimes I lose sight of what our Community BBQ’s are about. I worry that we don’t get enough support or help from our congregation and then as always, our congregation is there to help out with salads, desserts and money to make things happen. And then, as sometimes happens, I meet someone who says they will come to church, and then shows up. Or like the young woman, knocking on the kitchen door as the light is being turned out looking to take home dinner to a dark apartment. Then I say to myself, this is what it’s all about, thanks be to God.